Advocacy Groups Come Together to Protect Programs that Save Lives

Attacks on assistance programs strip people of their right to have basic needs met

This morning, the Michigan Safety Net Coalition (MOSES, Mothering Justice, and Michigan United) held a day of action at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit to defend assistance initiatives such as SNAP and Medicaid. Many families in Michigan depend on these resources for sustenance and medical care. Health care and access to food are basic human rights and everyone should be nourished and have the ability to live health lives.

Rai Lanier with Michigan United said, “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a basic lifeline for 41 million + people in our country. It helps 1/8 people put food on the table. Many families in Michigan depend on SNAP for sustenance and nutrition. It is a critical safety net program that must be kept in tact.”

These programs help millions of low-income participants, who have critical needs and may struggle to find work, may be employed in low-wage jobs, or have chronic health issues. These recipients are working families with children, women, people with disabilities, and seniors.

Deanne Austin, leader with Mothering Justice, said, “ As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, I depended on SNAP benefits; my mother was unemployed and disabled.” Deanne said, “I knew that using SNAP was a short-term benefit for me.” She emphasized that access to food and nutrition among college students is so important so they they can “focus on their education without worrying where their next meal is coming from.”

Shanelle Davison, mother of two and leader with Michigan United, depended on SNAP when she was a shift manager at Rite Aid and a chef at a local casino. Shanelle says she had to “make sure my 15 year old and 5 year old were eating” and that “If you take that (SNAP) away…you are taking away (from) children.”

The Michigan Safety Net Coalition, which organized this event is comprised of Michigan United, MOSES, and Mothering Justice. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joined the group to support their fight in protecting safety net programs such as Medicaid and SNAP.

Congresswoman Dingell, representing the 12th District of Michigan, said, “Fortunately, last month, we defeated the Farm Bill in the House of Representatives. And we did it because there were a few brave Republicans who understood that everybody, if you live in this country, deserves a right to food. Nobody should have to go hungry.” Rep. Dingell spoke about the research that shows how important nutrition is for children years 0-5 and in the early stages of pregnancy how nutrition is a critical piece of reducing infant mortality. Dingell said,

We have mothers and fathers that are working two jobs and they’re still living at the poverty line. I am tired of people saying that people don’t want to work, we shouldn’t give them handouts.This isn’t a handout, they are working their hearts and souls out and they can’t find a job that pays enough money so that everybody in their family can eat.” Dingell ends the press conference with “In this country, nobody should go hungry – nobody, and I am tired of stereotypes that don’t address a basic problem. We have too many people hungry in this country from children to seniors to veterans to working people. We need to protect this safety net for all Americans.